Old Testament prophecy is filled with references to “that day” – a ‘shorthand’ way the prophets referred to the coming time when God will write the final chapter in the history of this fallen world. The prophecies include details of great judgment and wrath (Amos 5.18-20; Isaiah 13.6-13; Zephaniah 1.14-15), and wonderful blessing and joy (Isaiah 4.2-6; Zechariah 14.6-9). In the New Testament, both Paul and Peter write explicitly about that coming day: It will come begin unexpectedly (1 Thess. 5.2-3), and will conclude when God consumes the world with fire:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (2 Peter 3.10)
There is no shortage of predictions of the end of the world. Since the middle of the last century, many have suggested that a nuclear holocaust will finish us off. They push for nuclear disarmament and an end to nuclear power. Others think our planet will be hit by an asteroid – tens of thousands are being tracked by NASA – causing massive destruction and death. NASA even has a defense plan, called DART (for Double Asteroid Redirection Test), by which they hope to redirect asteroids to prevent them from hitting earth. And of course, the cause célèbre in recent years has been climate change, with predictions of impending doom if we don’t embrace the ‘green new deal.’
When I think of these and other human efforts to fend off the end of the world, I’m amazed at our chutzpah. We think so highly of ourselves – as though we can control our own destiny. Inherent in our arrogance is the denial of the existence of God, and submission to Him. Jesus addressed this tendency when He said, And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? (Matt. 6.27). The psalmist captured our delusion well (Ps. 2):
Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed…
He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury…
That day is coming. “OK,” someone will say, “but since we can’t do anything about it, what difference does it make?” A lot! Peter follows his words about the day of the Lord with this counsel (2 Pet. 3.11-13):
Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
By pursuing a life of holy conduct and godliness, we live this day in anticipation of that day. How you live today matters for eternity.